Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter 1996, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe
Bosnian Conflict and Evangelical Cooperation
On 10-11 January 1996 in Zagreb, Croatia, representatives of
Croatian Protestant churches and Western mission groups met to discuss
the need for working partnerships and cooperation in Croatia and
Bosnia. This meeting of national leaders of the Protestant
Evangelical Council of Croatia (PEV), the Baptist Union,
nondenominational Protestant churches, and 37 Western missionaries,
representing 24 agencies, was organized by Pioneers in cooperation with
PEV and with Interdev as facilitator.
Croatian church leaders set the following priorities:
Western mission groups noted the following priorities:
- relationships with Western groups that are marked by trust and respect;
- quality long-term Western missionaries who are committed to
East-West partnership, who will work hard, who are culturally
sensitive, and who bring a range of needed skills;
- financial and technical resources and training; and
- Western cultural sensitivity. Groups that work independently
of indigenous churches, so called "free-shooters," have caused great
confusion, misunderstanding, and problems with the government, and have
left a negative image in some communities, which has made it difficult
for Evangelicals native to the region.
- ongoing dialogue with indigenous church leaders built on mutual
respect and the belief that all groups have the God-given right to work
in the region;
- a united front for humanitarian work;
- better communication between Western missions and indigenous churches;
- cross-cultural training for new missionaries;
- better support for newly arriving missionary personnel, including help in establishing residency; and
recognition by indigenous leaders that there will always be some
entrepreneurial missions not working closely with any national
group. This promotes creativity and allows God to direct groups
as He sees fit. At the same time, foreign groups need to take
steps to discourage "free-shooters" who cause problems and confusion.
churches and Western ministries all agreed on the need for unity and
partnership in light of the tremendous increase in foreign missions
that can be expected in Bosnia and Croatia in the next year. To
facilitate greater cooperation, those assembled appointed a small
working group consisting of representatives of the PEV, non-PEV
Croatian Protestant churches, and Western missionaries.
Representatives of Western ministries are Ted Esler
(Pioneers)--facilitator, Brooke Butler (Campus Crusade), Dick Fischer
(Navigators), Lisa Bell (Youth With A Mission), Mike Elwood (Greater
Europe Mission), Steve Meeker (Send), David Lively (Church Resource
Network International), and Johannes Neudeck (European Evangelical
ministry working group will not bring missions under the authority of
indigenous Protestant churches, but does seek to encourage maximum
cooperation and partnership with Protestant churches in the
Gary Braz is a missionary with Pioneers working in Bosnia.
Editors' note: Contact information for Ted Esler, Croatian-Bosnian working group facilitator, is:
Antuna Gottlieba 22
10090 Zagreb, Croatia
|4031 Bethel Drive #33
St. Paul, MN 55112
Gary Braz, "Bosnian Conflict and Evangelical Cooperation," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 4 (Winter 1996), 1.
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© 1996 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
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